Changing the model of seniors’ care through community support services and mental health integration: Reconnect Community Health Services

Assignment

Reconnect Community Health Services (Reconnect) and the former St. Clair West Services for Seniors (SCWSS) pursued a groundbreaking merger that brought together two parts of the health system that have traditionally operated in silos – mental health and addictions and community support services.

The goal was to create an innovative comprehensive care model for seniors and vulnerable adults with physical, mental health and social care needs. Crucial to the success was getting feedback from clients, caregivers, staff and volunteers about how the integration could improve in-home and community support services outcomes and experiences. Stakeholder input was also a key success factor.

What Santis Did

Supporting an executive steering committee, Santis provided a range of professional services and expertise throughout the merger process. Santis served as the project manager and developed and wrote the business case. Santis also led the development and implementation of an inclusive internal and external stakeholder and community engagement and communications plan.

Santis facilitated focus groups, town hall sessions and interviews with nearly 500 management, staff, clients, caregivers, volunteers, donors, community groups and partners, health service providers, funders, local city councillors and MPPs. The process involved several presentations and facilitated discussions with the management teams and the Boards of both agencies.

Outcomes

There was also a high level of participation in the engagement activities. All risks identified were proactively and openly addressed. Voting members of SCWSS and the Toronto Central LHIN passed a motion in support of the merger. The merger is now being implemented and serves as an example of how integration can remove barriers between health can services and improve care pathways for older adults with physical and mental health needs.